Naked under his eyes, under his hands, we are vulnerable. Conscious, more than ever, of our inevitably imperfect body. And yet, the loving gaze of the other has the power to make us accept, if not forget, what we like least about ourselves.
“I didn’t like my legs, which I found heavy and badly shaped,” says Juliette, 23. I always hid them under pants. When I made love, I used to pretend that I was cautious in order to be able to hide myself under the duvet up to the waist. And then, one day, a man, with whom I had only a brief affair, kissed them passionately, comparing them to marble columns. I have never forgotten his words and have since been much less obsessed with hiding them. I don’t love them, but I know you can love them. ”
Would the desire of a being have the power to transform the vision that we have of our own body? “The look that an individual has on the person they want reveals to them something about themselves that they did not know,” explains France Schott-Bilmann (Need to dance, Odile Jacob, 2001), dance therapist. When we want someone, we perceive in him an invisible beauty, a mystery which, until then, was not accessible to him. It is a liberating gaze that brings extra life. ”
A liberating energy
“I never feel so sure of my body as when I make love,” says Anne-Laure, 27 years old. I no longer have any weight or hip or waist circumference to evaluate in centimeters. I am no longer an image but a movement, a clay modeled by the caresses of the other. Likewise, whatever the physical faults of my partner, I love him as he is since he gives me pleasure and that I give him. »This confidence regained in his body during a sexual relationship probably does not have the power to radically transform the way we look at ourselves overnight, but it can heal old wounds.
“I became bald at a very young age,” says Yves, 34. People laughed at me and I was shy around women. I still managed to spend the night with a friend’s sister, very beautiful, whom I had wanted for a long time. While we were chatting after making love, she said while stroking my head: “I never realized how much your smooth skull accentuated the black of your eyes. Are you shaving it on purpose? ” I fell from the clouds. In an instant, what I had always experienced as a handicap turned into an asset! ”
Dare to abandon
If the loving and desiring gaze of the other has the power to reconcile us with what we love the least in ourselves, we must add the chemical magic that operates in the sexual relationship. “When we want someone, specifies Isabelle Filliozat (The Year of Happiness, JC Lattès, 2001), psychotherapist, several physiological phenomena appear: our pupils dilate, we release sex hormones, pheromones, which act as stimulants, our body temperature rises and our blood circulates more quickly. We relax and surrender to our feelings. And since it is our tensions that make us ugly, when the energy of desire takes hold of us, we embellish. ”
Carried away by desire, the bodies are sublimated, imperfections dissolve under loving hands in the search for the only pleasure. But this state of grace seems difficult to achieve when the rejection of our body or parts of it is too intense. “Especially in a society like ours which places such an emphasis on appearance to the detriment of other qualities, insists Catherine Bensaïd (Yes love you life, Robert Laffont, 2000), psychoanalyst. When the doubt about your own person is too deeply rooted, that it goes back to weaknesses born in childhood, it is probably necessary to consider therapeutic help in order to finally be able to accept yourself as you are. ”
“I don’t like my breasts,” admits Francesca, 38. I find them too big. I have the same ones as my mother and I hated having a busty mother when I was little. I know this is what turns my companion on the most. However, I find it hard to let go of myself completely. So are there any limits to the power of desire? Difficult to indulge in the appreciation of the other when you don’t love each other. “Not to love yourself is also to think that you are bad inside yourself, analyzes Isabelle Filliozat. However, the sexual act is the place where we reveal ourselves more than ever. If one thinks of himself as bad, one is in fear that, during the abandonment of the amorous act, the other will discover it. Consequence: we stiffen ourselves to avoid this disclosure. From there, letting go, therefore all pleasure, is impossible. ”
However, recalls Catherine Bensaïd, “desire makes us see in the other what he has best. This is why we all have the opportunity to be beautiful to someone. “Thus Victoria, 68 years old:” Three years ago – I was already a widow -, I found a man whom I had loved at 17 years old. As soon as we saw each other, we understood that desire remained between us. But I wasn’t persuaded to have a physical relationship: I felt too insecure about my aging body. Until he said to me, “It’s your body that’s aged, not you.” ”
To ensure the indulgence of a look that we dread, there is sometimes a great temptation to entrust our bodily complexes to the other. A confession that turns out to be positive when one is not totally devoid of self-confidence, but which will be dangerous otherwise. If the emotional relationship is not strong enough, we take the risk of falling on a sexual partner who can use this loophole to establish his power and demolish the little confidence that we had. Not to mention that “emphasizing a detail that you don’t like is difficult to manage for a man in love,” explains Catherine Bensaïd, psychoanalyst. Because then he leaves that hunter’s gaze that he sometimes has when he divides the woman’s body into partial objects: breasts, legs, buttocks, mouth, etc. He sees in the woman he wants a subject, a being in its entirety. ”
Women’s bodies, men’s gazes by Jean-Claude Kaufmann (Pocket, 2001). Based on observations of topless on the beach, the author examines the ways in which women show their bodies and are looked at by men.